I'm going to use Small Rifle Primers in Pistol cartridges, unless....


November 7, 2008, 05:32 PM
......unless someone can give me a substantial reason not to do this.

I've just decided to go back to reloading .38 Special for my old K14's. I've been loading .45 acp right along.

I have almost 4000 small rifle primers left over from my benchrest rifle days but I was about to order some small pistol for this pistol caliber until I took careful measurements of both a rifle and a pistol small primer and found them to be the same size both in width and depth.

So I pressed a small rifle primer into a .38 Special case. It seated snugly and the depth looked normal. I took it outside and fired the empty primed case and it fired just fine. (sounded like a .22) The spent primed case looks normal - no cratering, no bulging, no shallow strike.

I can't see any reason that I can't use up some of my older small rifle primers by loading them into pistol cases.

Can anyone talk me out of it?

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November 7, 2008, 06:22 PM
If you have lightened any trigger springs you might have a little trouble setting them off. Start low and work up the load. Other than that I have a friend that does that so he doesn't have to worry about getting them mixed up.

November 7, 2008, 06:25 PM

November 7, 2008, 06:27 PM
I used Fiocchi's SR primers in 9mmx19 a while back. My general cautions would be:

- The SR's can be harder than SP, so if you have played with springs, you could have ignition issues.

- If you're anywhere near a max loading, drop down and work up again.

Dimensionally, I didn't encounter any issues.

(I assume you are in the US).
Given the current run on rifle reloading components, perhaps you can do better by offering them for sale and buying the primers you actually want (assuming there are no small pistol primer avail issues in your local region).

November 7, 2008, 06:33 PM
I see no problem, in fact I do it myself. Just work up a load as you should when changing any other components. I hear alot about the rifle primers not going off because of the lighter springs in pistols however that hs not been my experience. I say GO FOR IT.

November 7, 2008, 06:38 PM

Now that's funny right there! :D

November 7, 2008, 07:12 PM
All of my loads for my open pistols use win SRP's.

November 7, 2008, 07:34 PM

My 686 won't even set off CCI small pistol primers too reliable, softer Federal are the go for me.
That's only because I've had the trigger spring and mainspring lightened up, to give a very light, fast & smooth double action firing for competition use.

You may encounter similar issues with SRP with older revolvers, due the mainspring losing some of it's tension over years.
There's only one way to find out. Try 'em.

There should be no issues with pressure, if low or moderate loading is used.
I'm not sure as to how safe it would be to use for max loads(with SRP's) in older 38spl revolvers, though. As there is no way of you confirming that the peak pressures remain under 17,000psi. Just my thoughts.

November 7, 2008, 07:43 PM
As previous posters have mentioned any spring mods to the gun could give problems and these will show up most quickly in the double action mode. The hammer fall in the DA mode is shorter than SA so if there is going to be a problem that is where it will be. Actually a worst case senario is a Target hammer in DA. I switched out my target hammer back when I was shooting PPC for reliability in the DA mode.

November 7, 2008, 07:58 PM
I have shot small rifle primers in pistols [at age 50] and I have put wires in an electrical outlet and got 110VAC potential across me from one hand to the other [at age 6].

The shock was worse than the primers.

Sometimes an old revolver will not set off primers in double action.
I take off the side plate and give the hammer spring a tweek.
If that breaks the hammer spring, then I must cannibalize another revolver.

As a general rule, I do not like to use more primer than is necessary. Going up a step in primer is like adding 0.5 gr more powder for added pressure, but almost no gain in velocity.

the foot
November 7, 2008, 08:10 PM
KRS- If using Small Rifle primers in handguns I would work up new loads, starting with minimum pressure and going up from there. Look for pressure signs on the spent brass. I would give it a try if I had 4000 primers to use.

November 7, 2008, 08:53 PM
OK, good, and thanks all - especially you Otto :) (that kid even looks like me when I was about that size).

I'll be shooting single action almost entirely with the .38 Special - bullseye style, so there shouldn't be load problems. I was going to go back into it at 2.5 gr. of bullseye and 148 gr DEWC's. In any case I have a couple of spare S&W mainsprings on hand.

So we'll see. It doesn't sound like there's anything inherently hazardous in doing this.

Selling and shipping them would put me in a hazmat shipping status and I'm not licensed to do that. We have to declare that nothing hazardous is in our packages in the US, and it's not good to get found breaking any of those rules. VERY not good.

November 7, 2008, 08:56 PM
The shock was worse than the primers.I tried to use an A/C outlet to charge some battery cars when I was about six. Hey, electricity is electricity, right? Nice big black mark on the outlet cover. :D

I have tried small rifle primers in a couple of applications with .38 Spl. and slow powder. Accuracy was better with pistol primers.

I would have to prove that I was not losing accuracy before I used them for a pistol load, but other than that, and it throwing the manuals max loads out the window, they will work just fine.

As a general rule, I do not like to use more primer than is necessary
I concur.

November 7, 2008, 10:06 PM
Isn't it true rifle primers fire off hotter than pistol primers? I believe the rifle powder needs the hotter primer because rifle powder is slower than handgun powder. Most already know that rifle primers are also harder the pistol primer.
It seems to me primers are classified for a reason. (Please tell me the logic is wrong). I guess that's why you don't load rifles with pistol powder or pistols with rifle powder.

November 7, 2008, 10:42 PM
"...due the mainspring losing some of it's tension..." Springs do not lose temper over time.
Using a small rifle primer in a handgun round will give you odd pressures. Having 4,000 of 'em is a reason to buy something to use 'em in. The .30 Carbine uses SR primers. Go look at the CMP's site.

November 8, 2008, 10:44 AM
TSK, :rolleyes: I said that I'd been shooting benchrest rifles. Though memory does dim somewhat as the years pass by I'm not so far gone as that I don't know that rifles use rifle primers.

As it happens I have all three of my benchrest rifles in 6ppc and .222 that use these primers, amongst some thirty other rifles (including ten bought from either DCM or CMP) IF I were to load for them again, but there've been surgical issues with my dominant eye that have left it unable to see clearly through a rifle scope because it is so far farsighted that I exceed the range of adjustment of my scopes. Nor can I see iron sights using that eye, but I do find that a changeover to my 'wrong' eye isn't too awkward when firing a pistol so I'm back to shooting in the bullseye pistol manner- a sport I engaged in competitively for over eight years.

So..I have a lot of rifle primers and I'm shooting pistols. There won't be a problem.

It's probably time to sell all of my rifles but each time I start to do that I balk because I like them so much. I did sell a marine corp marked .22 40x and I traded a Ruger #1 to a member here for a revolver.

I can shoot pistols right here on my own property too - no need for going to the range for that.

November 8, 2008, 01:20 PM
well, i have done it in the past. but i would not reccomend it. i was always skiddish about doing it, and felt uneasy every shot i fired. it was years ago, and i didnt have much, especially knowledge of what could really happen. now i buy the right primers for the job at hand. can you use a pair of pliars to take a nut off? usually, but it wont be pretty. in theory, with all the circumstances being right, the hotter, longer ignition of rifle primers could cause a completer instantainious burn of all the powder at once instead of the controlled burn as usual. what happens then is a terrific overpressure in the cartridge. what happens next is anybodys guess. maybe nothing, maybe the case will rupture sending hot gasses and spray back to your eyes, mabe the gun will destruct and there will be shrapnel flying all over the place. it would depend on a lot of things. "how lucky do you feel"? me, i am not all that lucky.

November 8, 2008, 01:55 PM
As I stated above I've used sm. rifle primers in pistol cart., just work up your load, no problem. How lucky do I feel? Well I've been reloading since the early '60's and have yet to have an issue. How lucky do I feel? I've been driving since the later '50's I've had 10 accidents however none my fault. Bottom line--start light & work up. Noticed an error in my first sentence, corrected it.

pilot teacher
November 8, 2008, 02:04 PM
Maybe not to smart. The height of Rifle and pistol primers are not the same with the pistol primers being smaller. There's also a slight difference in the diameter with rifle primers haing a wider diameter. That's why your rifle primers are fitting snug. The material inside the cup is being squashed somewhat which might result in an accidental discharge while seating it. You also should consider that the primer may be over sensitized and a dropped round might fire off. :uhoh: IMHO ;)you may be better off by selling the remainder of your primers at the gun range and buying the correct primers you need. Or, even making a trade with someone.

November 8, 2008, 04:12 PM

Large rifle primers are higher than large pistol, but the same is not true for small pistol/small rifle or at least not as much a difference. I make Federal small rifle to be .1220" thick, while 25 year old CCI small pistol at .1170". Their diameters are the same at .1750". I think the firing pins of my S&W pre-MIM pistols will be fine with the extra .003" reach.

I said that the one I fired fit snugly, not tightly. It went into the seat with the same pressure that a pistol primer does in a case that isn't enlargeged by several reloadings. The small rifle primer went to it's seat normally and I use Lee hand primer tools exclusively because of the feel they give. They'll be fine for my intended usage - jwit said so :) and he's got about ten years on me as I've only been reloading since 1971.

November 8, 2008, 04:55 PM
Large rifle primers are higher than large pistol, but the same is not true for small pistol/small Yep.

November 8, 2008, 04:59 PM
Correct ! Large rifle primers are taller and will not seat slightly below flush with the case head "approx .002/.003 thou." This could cause dire problems in an auto pistol. The dia. of both large pistol & rifle primers are the same. When it comes to the small pistol & rifle primers they are both the same dimension, but the cup metal thickness may be heavier or harder in the rifle ones. This is particularly true of the CCI brand and military primers.

pilot teacher
November 8, 2008, 05:09 PM
Hi krs. I guess experience does count. I've reloaded only 55 of my almost 72 years. Along the same theme, there's a fellow at the range where I shoot that uses Bullseye in a 308. :eek: Says it works fine and saves alot of money on powder. :uhoh: I make sure I'm at least 5 benches away when he's there. LOL

The only misfortune I had was when my Savage 340 30-30 blew up.
I fired a shot at the same time ka-boom. What happened was the last round in the magazine went off in the magazine. Had been using Rem 9 1/2 primers and started to notice inconsistent firing. It must have because I was seating the primers too deep and hard. At the recoil from the previous round, the remaining round in the magazine set off. After we gathered up the pieces the magazine was found almost 30 feet away flat as a pancake. The barrel locking nut was split. The barrel was examined by a gunsmith and was still in excellent shape. Nothing was there that would have blocked the bore.

Was very, very lucky only incurred a cut on the side of my nose and my shooting glasses protected my eyes. So no thanks, I'll use primers in the cartridges they're intended for. I was a pilot teacher but not a test pilot.:D

November 8, 2008, 07:10 PM
Using Bullseye powder in a 308 isn't anywhere near the smartest thing to do. Lyman Cast Bullet manual doesn't give any recipes for cast bullets using bullseye. In reading your post I wonder what went wrong with the Savage. Weird. I doubt it was from seating to deep as there are lots of new guys reloading over the years using the orginal Lee Loader and tapping the primers in not really knowing what they're doing. Oh well, I have yet to have anything like this happen and 2 years ago I reloaded and shot in excess of 15,000 rounds. Not that much this year, the price of gas kept me from going to the range as much.

November 8, 2008, 07:28 PM
When I first started reloading, I bought SR primers and used them in both .30 Carbine and 9mm because I didn't trust myself to keep SP primers out of .30 Carbine cases. They worked just fine -- but my BHP will launch a pencil all the way across the room with the firing pin. I just worked up the 9mm loads using the hot primers.

Now I buy both rifle and pistol primers, but I still use SR primers instead of buying SPM's. All my magnums pop them just fine (I haven't tried shooting them double-action tho')

November 10, 2008, 01:08 PM
SRP in pistol loads?

not me, partner...

you go ahead and have a blast!

(pun intended :) )

November 10, 2008, 07:57 PM
Senior Member

Join Date: 11-20-06
Location: Alabama
Posts: 7,381

The shock was worse than the primers.
I tried to use an A/C outlet to charge some battery cars when I was about six. Hey, electricity is electricity, right? Nice big black mark on the outlet cover.

I am an electrical engineer, and I sometimes do tests with mechanical engineers. I know that the legal limit for bare wires is 50 Volts, because that is close to the breakdown of skin. In a 28 Volt aircraft battery, I touch the hot terminals. This frightens the mechanicals. They think I am crazy and dangerous. So I rub on the terminals real hard with both hands while laughing at them and say, "Don't try this with salt water on your hands."

Getting 110 VAC across the hand may hurt, but the 110VAC from hand to hand is real dangerous. We have big insulated hooks for pulling bodies off shocking situations in the lab.

I have been working in engineering labs for thirty some years, but I have never seen anyone seriously hurt. I have seen a guy shocked so bad that he refused to talk for the rest of the day.

November 10, 2008, 08:10 PM
My question is this: you are using a very light load, if the rifle primer is hotter could you end up with a detonation?

November 10, 2008, 09:09 PM
Not in a short pistol case, probably certain in a long rifle case. Also with a light charge of slow rifle powder.

November 11, 2008, 02:58 AM
Good to know. I also looked in my books again and saw how little space is left with a wadcutter compared to a semi-wadcutter or any other "standard type" projectile.

January 2, 2009, 08:02 AM
I am stocking up primers for TEOTWAWKI or more likely a ammo ban. I already have a few thousand small pistol primers and was thinking of a max of 5k. Would it make sense to get more SR primers and use them in the pistol if I run out but have them for the rifle that will probably get more use.

January 2, 2009, 08:16 AM
Okay..... I have a lot of loading years behind me, too, but frankly, this isn't
one area I've dealt with. The closest I've come is using Small Magnum Pistol primers in place of standard primers.

Tell ya what - IF you're set on doing this, do let us know how it goes, huh? I've looked around and haven't found any product liability notices like: "WARNING: For Use In Rifle Cartridges ONLY," and the way liability law suits go in this country, you'd expect that if there were any chance of it being a bad idea....

I don't advocate it, and hate to have lawyers telling me what I already know, anyway:fire:

But seriously, if you're set on doing it, come back and give a range report, okay? Thanks....

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